When we think about the factors that determine career success, we tend to assume that individual-level factors are decisive. Each person who has the required competencies shows sufficient effort and persistence, and prioritizes work over other (e.g. leisure) activities should be able to succeed—or so we believe. Thus, when we observe that members of certain groups are less represented or less successful in specific job types—as is the case for women in academia—we implicitly conclude that this must be the result of valid differences in individual merit and achievement. If women are less successful than men, something must be deficient in the competencies, efforts, or priorities of these women—not in the societal or organizational systems in which they function. We refer to this as ‘individual merit ideology’ (see also Ellemers & Van Laar, 2010).